Setting Boundaries with Clients
Even if you love your clients, it's still super important to set up clear and simple client boundaries. This not only helps you, but is important for them as well. For you, setting clear client boundaries will allow you to get your work done more efficiently, stick to a timeline, get paid what you're worth and help prevent burnout. For your clients, boundaries help them understand how the project will flow and what they can expect from you as well as what you expect from them. I promise it's helpful for everyone involved!
So here's a few tips and tricks to help you create your own client boundaries for your business:
During the initial client call
Setting boundaries with your clients is key to starting off on the right foot. No need to worry about seeming demanding during this part, but consider this as the perfect setup for a successful relationship. Get clear with your office hours, the best ways to reach you and the project timeline. If you are dealing with a client who enjoys sending a late night email message, let them know that there message will be read and responded to, not at midnight but during your office hours. this is also a good time to let them know what you need from them to get started with a project. If it helps, set due dates and timelines. Everyone works better when they have a set date to get shit done!
Within your welcome packet/proposal
All of those items you talked about in your call? Include them in writing in your welcome packet or proposal. Outline where project communication will take place - such as in Asana versus multiple email threads. Remind them that you don’t answer emails or texts on the weekend. Getting these items in writing and in their possession will help if you have to address later their breach of boundaries. Hopefully this won’t happen, but it is always helpful to have on hand.
Within your contract
First and foremost, have a contract!! It helps protect you AND your client. This is a great place to add those nitty gritty details like due dates and late fees. Be sure to address these items with your client directly as well. While everyone should read a contract carefully before signing it, it's no fun to have to refer back to the contract as the only point of reference that discusses the boundaries you've set.
In your email signature
If you do have office hours, outlining them in an email signature can be a consistent remind to a client of your availability. This doesn’t have to be in bold, red text, but you can keep it in your brand colors and in smaller text underneath your name.
During a client check-in
If these ideas don’t seem to stick with your client, you’ve got to stick up for yourself. Nicely, of course! Schedule a client check-in to provide updates on the project so they can feel informed and confident in your process. Once you are wrapping up, tell them about how they have started to breach your boundaries. Talk through with them how they have communicated with you has taken over your tasks and maybe even kept things behind schedule. A solution could be weekly updates on the process of the project or sharing your content schedule so they can keep tabs on your project status. Don’t be shy! This is for your sanity and theirs!